Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016

It is a beautiful sunny day in Cuenca!! I am warm for the first time in a week. I have to admit that Cuenca looks so different to me in the sunshine. The light glistens and reflects off the water running along the Tomebamba river bed. The colors of the old colonial buildings and churches in El Centro look bright among the mix of old and run down buildings that line these narrow streets, and the many flags on buildings above the streets wave in the breeze, their colors contrasting against a very blue sky. It is a pleasing place to be.

We stopped for an almuerzo at Eats and Treats. Today the meat entrée was a piece of fried chicken. I don’t think I have had fried chicken since I’ve been in Ecuador. It was better than KFC.

When we finished lunch we walked through El Centro toward SmartRepair to get my phone fixed. Mateo, the owner, emailed me this morning apologizing for not being at his store yesterday. He was out looking for a new location for his business.

When we arrived, Mateo was there and looked at my phone. He told me I needed a new pinport. I asked him how he knew and he plugged the charger into the port and showed me how it wiggled, just slightly. He said the port has a broken or missing pin.

I had tried to look into this very tiny opening of my phone at home, and I could not get my eyes to focus on the pins to tell anything. Even with my glasses on I couldn’t get see the individual pins clearly. Yikes. It’s probably time for a stronger prescription.

Mateo told me he won’t have the port I need until tomorrow. I told him I would come back in the morning with my phone and then he could fix it. So, I’m getting closer to getting my phone fixed. Baby steps.

On my way out of El Centro, we stopped at the farmer’s market on 10 de Agosto. It was about 3:30 pm at this point and any crowd that may have been here is gone. We only needed a few things…bacon, limes, avocados.three-little-pigs

I passed by some strawberries that caught my eye. I asked the woman for two pounds. She weighed them out and I gave her a $5 bill to pay for them. She looked at my bill and rubbed her fingers over it and handed it back to me. She didn’t want to take it.

Ok, so the bill is worn and dirty. That is the general state of all $5 bills in Ecuador. The thing is though, it didn’t have any rips or tears. It was completely in tact and without any writing or defacing. It was just a typical worn bill.

Now the crazy thing is, I just got this bill as change from the meat counter where I bought my bacon. I told the strawberry lady this bill is ok, and she told me she will not take it. Now I have other bills in my wallet, but I’m about done with this behavior.

I asked Heidi to pull the strawberries out of her canvas bag. I took my $5 bill back from the lady and handed her the strawberries. I walked 10 feet to the next vendor, asked for two pounds of strawberries and paid with my $5 bill. No problem.

It isn’t that I blame the Ecuadorians for their paranoia about the condition of money they accept. The banks will not take money that has a tear or if a small piece is missing. I don’t know what the banks’ level of tolerance is for worn bills, but I have to believe they take them since that is the general condition of most paper money here.

It comes down to this, you have to be aware of the condition of any bills you are given back as change. Personally I find this a bit cumbersome to worry about, but it is a reality.

I have received $20 bills dispensed from the ATM machine and even they can be very worn. Once I had a restaurant owner come to my table after I paid his employee for my meal, and he asked me to give him another $20 bill. I did, but after living here 10 months now I wouldn’t do that again.

It is election night in the US. Heidi and Chase are making homemade pizza for us to eat while we watch the election results come in tonight.

I’m 54 years old and I cannot remember a more divided populace around a US Presidential election. I cannot remember a time when I have seen such intolerant behavior and read so many vile comments made by US citizens regarding our differences with each other.

Tomorrow, as US citizens, we each have a responsibility to come together, respecting each other and our differences, and work as one nation, indivisible, to solve the challenges we face in our country. Anything less falls short of who we are as people of the United States of America.